Divisions

The Office of the Hennepin County Attorney is made up of several divisions, which are grouped into civil and criminal categories. Each division focuses on a different area of the legal system to best serve Hennepin County.

Hennepin County Attorney Michael O. Freeman oversees these divisions.

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Deputies

Civil Deputy - Charlene W. Hatcher

Charlene W. Hatcher was promoted to Deputy County Attorney for the Civil Divisions in December 2011. She had previously served as managing attorney for the Adult Services Division and managing attorney of the Human Services Division.

Ms. Hatcher joined the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office in 1993 and before that worked in private practice and as a special assistant attorney general in Minnesota. She is a graduate of the William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul.

She manages the Civil, Adult Services, Child Support and Child Protection divisions.

Criminal Division - David Brown

David C. Brown is the Deputy County Attorney for the Criminal Divisions. Mr. Brown has been a prosecutor for over 25 years and has served in the Adult Prosecution Division, Drug Team, Child Protection Division, and most recently as supervisor of the Appeals Section. He has also done extensive teaching on evidence and trial skills for the National District Attorneys Association and Minnesota County Attorneys Association. Mr. Brown is a 1987 honors graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School.

The Criminal Deputy County Attorney is responsible for the Adult Prosecution, Community Prosecution, Juvenile Prosecution, Special Litigation and Victims Services divisions.

Civil Division

The Civil Division provides a full range of legal services to Hennepin County government, working on contracts, employment issues, torts, health services, real property and human services. The division also represents the elected Hennepin County Board and Sheriff, as well as the county administrator.

Hennepin County is the largest local unit of government in Minnesota, employing nearly 7,200 employees, and is one of the 15 largest employers in Minnesota. The county has a $1.6 billion dollar yearly budget – larger than eight states.

The division has approximately 30 attorneys and 20 legal support staff including paralegals, secretaries, investigators and claims adjusters. The work of the civil division is extremely diverse and is driven by the breadth and variety of issues facing Hennepin County.

To protect the county's legal interests, civil attorneys provide regular training for county staff on liability reduction, contracts and procurement, and data practices issues.

Dan Rogan is the Managing Attorney for the Civil Division.

The division has five separate teams:

  • Employment - provides legal advice and representation to the Human Resource department and all other departments with respect to employment, labor, and worker’s compensation matters
  • Contracts - provides legal advice to departments and drafts and negotiates contract matters with outside vendors
  • Torts - responds to civil claims and lawsuits filed against the county and its employees in state and federal court
  • Real Property - represents the county in property tax appeals, condemnation matters, and other property-related matters
  • Health - provides legal representation to the Hennepin County Medical Center, NorthPoint, Metropolitan Health Plan, and several other health-related departments within the county

Adult Services

The Adult Services Division is responsible for a variety of matters including civil commitment, adult protection, economic assistance and assorted matters relating to social service appeals. The majority of the caseload is in the civil commitment area, handling over 1,300 cases per year of persons with mental illness, chemical dependency and developmental disabilities.

The Division also handles sex offender commitments and Rule 20 petitions from the criminal court where a defendant is found incompetent to stand trial for a criminal charge. Many of the Rule 20 petitions present unique challenges in the need for continued coordination between the criminal and commitment courts.

The Adult Services Division assists the Hennepin County Human Services and Public Health Department by providing legal advice and representation in actions involving the developmentally disabled, services to seniors, and legal matters affecting vulnerable adults, including Probate Court guardianships and conservatorship cases.

Charlene Hatcher is the Managing Attorney for the Adult Services Division.

Child Protection

Child Protection keeps the children of Hennepin County safe. Investigation and legal action protect neglected or mistreated children. By law, the primary goal of all child protection cases is to maintain or return a child to the family if it is safe and in the child’s best interests. Child Protection includes be@school, a truancy intervention program.

The Child Protection Division provides legal advice and represents the Human Services and Public Health Department (HSPHD) of Hennepin County in hundreds of administrative and Juvenile Court proceedings every year.

When there is a need to obtain court jurisdiction over a family in order to provide protective services, Child Protection attorneys file a petition in Juvenile Court alleging that the child is in need of protection or services (a CHIPS petition). From that point forward, attorneys in the division represent HSPHD-Child Protection in all court proceedings relating to the petition.

Lori Whittier is the Managing Attorney for the Child Protection Division.

Child Support

The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office Child Support Division works to ensure that children have the support they need from both parents by enforcing child support enforcement laws. As legal counsel to the Hennepin County Child Support Agency, the county attorney represents the county in:

  • Establishing paternity for children whose parents are not married or living together
  • Establishing court orders for basic, medical and child care support
  • Enforcing payment of court-ordered child support for custodial parents
  • Modifying court ordered child support when a parent’s financial circumstances have substantially changed

Through this type of advocacy, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office works to strengthen families and help to ensure that children obtain the resources that they need.

Julie Harris is the Managing Attorney of the Child Support Division.

Adult Prosecution

The Adult Prosecution Division charges all adult serious felony crimes against a person including murder, robbery, rape, assault, child abuse, domestic abuse, residential burglaries, criminal vehicular homicide or injury, and felons in possession of guns. The Adult Prosecution Division is also in charge of all Grand Jury investigations.

Each prosecutor is responsible for all stages of prosecution from the charging decision to the trial. Prosecutors work closely with law enforcement, victim/witness advocates, and others in the court system; many attorneys are specialists in cases of child abuse, domestic abuse or sexual assault of adult victims.

Marlene Senechal is the Managing Attorney for the Adult Prosecution Division.

Community Prosecution

The Community Prosecution Division charges drug and property offenses. Drug crimes include both the sale and possession of illegal drugs. Property crimes include damage to property, theft, credit card fraud, and similar offenses. The Community Prosecution Division also handles nuisance property issues.

The Division maintains close ties with community members, including Court Watch groups that monitor repeat and dangerous offenders and submit Community Impact Statements.

Gail Baez is the Managing Attorney for the Community Prosecution Division.

Juvenile Prosecution

The Juvenile Prosecution Division prosecutes juvenile offenders for offenses ranging from serious traffic offenses to homicides. Violent juvenile offenders are aggressively prosecuted; crime prevention and early intervention efforts are emphasized for less serious offenders. When appropriate due to the serious or violent nature of the offense, the office files motions for extended jurisdiction juvenile (EJJ) or certification to adult court. The division also prosecutes adult co-defendants of juveniles in felony cases.

Staff facilitate anti-bullying, restorative justice, and truancy reduction programs in schools. Other outreach efforts include community prosecutors, who work with police in certain communities, and attorney liaisons to high schools and middle schools.

Tom Arneson is the Managing Attorney for the Juvenile Prosecution Division.

Special Litigation

The Special Litigation Division includes Appeals, Complex Crimes and Gang.

The Appellate Section handles criminal appeals, pre-trial appeals, and often advises attorneys from other divisions on legal matters that may arise in the course of a trial.

The Complex Crime Section prosecutes various economic and complex financial crimes, including employee theft, mortgage fraud, financial exploitation of vulnerable adults, identity theft and public corruption offenses. These cases often involve large financial losses to victims or present complicated financial transactions.

The Gang Team charges all adult and certain juvenile violent crimes involving gang members and presents appropriate cases to the Grand Jury.

Special Litigation staff also train Hennepin County law enforcement officers on legal issues.

Al Harris is the Managing Attorney for the Special Litigation Division. Andy LeFevour is the Managing Attorney for the Gang Team.

Victim Services

The Victim Services Division handles all victim services within the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office. It includes the Domestic Abuse Services Center, a nationally recognized one-stop center for victims of domestic violence, and the Victim Witness Units for all adult and the juvenile prosecution divisions. Victim services are provided to victims of all felony level crimes, whether the offense was committed by an adult or a juvenile.

Specialized advocates work with victims of child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, homicide and other crimes. Interpreters and Spanish bilingual advocates are available.

Lolita Ulloa is the Managing Attorney for the Victims Services Division.

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